Eventers' dream beginning to unravel
On a day of attrition on the cross-country course, the Irish Eventing team dropped from fifth to ninth place at Deodoro Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro yesterday.
There was always an expectation that the 33-fence track would be tough, and the 15 eliminations and two retirements, along with a host of falls and refusals, were testament to that.
The Irish got off to a tricky start when Padraig McCarthy had a run-out with Simon Porloe at the brush fence after the step-up at fence 11 before being eliminated for a fall at the corner second-element of the Palm Tree Question six fences later.
And although Clare Abbott made it home with Euro Prince, she was carrying an extra 65.6 penalties after a stop at the first of the brush corners at fence six, and then bizarrely landing in the ditch in front of the step-up at 11.
Jonty Evans, lying ninth individually after a brilliant dressage test with Cooleys Rorkes Drift, had to take some longer routes in order to steady the ship and added 22.80 time penalties to his scoreline in the process.
Read more: Tough day for Ireland's eventing team in Rio
So when anchorman Mark Kyle with Jemilla picked up 20 penalties for a circle in the last water complex, the Irish tally stood at 278.40, a long way behind the 150.30 posted by leaders Australia.
The Aussie day was kick-started by a brilliant run from Sam Griffiths and his Irish-bred mare Paulank Brockagh, who picked up just 6.8 time penalties, and when that was backed up by one of just three clear rounds on the day from Christopher Burton and Santano ll they were looking better all the time.
But they were fortunate that Stuart Tinny and Pluto returned with just 2.80 time faults because their last man, Shane Rose, was stopped on course after his horse, CP Qualified, appeared exhausted.